How to hack your tech career

Aug 2, 2022·

3 min read

Okay, I'm sorry, I pulled you in with a click-bait headline. There's no way to hack your career, obviously.

However - you can do a few simple things to help yourself grow and advance faster. I've applied these points to my career, where I went from no experience to a Senior Developer in less than 4 years. Let's talk about them!

Work on your social skills.

The stereotypical developer is a person in a hoodie, hunched over a desk in the darkness, emerging only for snacks and energy drinks.

While these kind of developers do still exist, in modern times software development is actually an incredibly collaborative and people-oriented process.

You have to be able to work effectively in a team, and share ideas. You must be able to present your work in demos to peers and clients. You must review each other's code and designs.

Soft skills are hugely important, and building your interpersonal relationships with other developers and non-technical colleagues will help you so much in your career.

At a minimum: be friendly, polite, and open to others' ideas and viewpoints. You will quickly become someone that everyone wants on their project.

Use your 121's wisely.

Frequent one to one (121) meetings with a line manager seems to be a common thing within software companies. Compared to a lot of industries, this is unusual as you might only have this chance once or twice a year. Take advantage of it!

Use your 121 meeting to discuss your future ambitions with your manager. If you are looking to reach the next step in your career, tell them so! They can support you in your journey and ensure you are working on the correct objectives to accelerate your growth.

Also, don't be afraid to raise issues with your manager. While it depends on your individual circumstances, generally a company would rather know if you are having any problems, and fix it - rather than lose you, and have to go through the expensive process of finding, hiring and training someone new.

Reach out if you need help.

Don't stay blocked on a piece of work. If you are stuck and can't proceed, you should be finding a way to overcome this obstacle by any means necessary, and this should include working with your team mates to find a solution. Ultimately, tech companies want to be consistently delivering value, and so you being stuck on a task is hindering them from this goal.

It reflects well on you if you can show you are a resourceful and proactive developer who is not afraid to ask questions and get the job done.

Keep track of your successes.

This one is so important. Don't expect other people to be tracking your progress or contributions. Keeping a list of all the projects you've worked on and what you did as part of them, is hugely valuable to you when promotion time rolls around, or you're looking for a new role.

Personally, I like to keep screenshots of any praise I receive from colleagues or customers too. Not only can these be used as testimonies to support your progress, but they can be something to look back on when you're ever feeling that pesky imposter syndrome.

Network with people outside of your company.

This will help you understand the shape of the market more clearly. Is where you work paying you fairly, or offering the support you want? Could you be better off moving elsewhere, or could you propose new initiatives to your current workplace inspired from other companies?

It can't hurt to keep your options open, plus every tech company does things a little differently, so by networking with other developers you can become more knowledgeable about your industry.